How To Choose Sleeping Bag: Complete Package [2023 Guide]

Do you know how to choose sleeping bag? The sleeping bag is undoubtedly one of the most important equipment, and you need to know how to find the right one for your outdoor activity. The functionality of the sleeping bag varies according to the nature of the planned activity. For those who plan activities such as climbing and trekking, the lighter sleeping bag is more preferable, while the sleeping bag means comfort for campers.

About the Sleeping Bag

Sleeping bags designed for camping; stands out with their wide, soft and comfortable structures. There are two different type of filler materials: Synthetic and goose down. They are classified according to their temperature. The most decisive criterion at the point of purchase is in which season / seasons and what weather the sleeping bag will be used. Another important point is who will use the sleeping bag because male and female body temperature and resistance to chilling are different from each other.

 Which Sleeping Bag is Suitable for You?

Sleeping bags temperature measurements determined by standard EN 13537 under 4 main categories: “Upper Limit”, “Comfort Level”, “Lower Limit” and “Extreme Degree”. These 4 ​​are included in the sleeping bags to show which temperature measurement is compatible with that product.

REI began requiring American manufacturers to follow the EN 13537 standard, and in October 2016, ISO 23537-1:2016 standard replaced the EN 13537 standard.

  • Upper Limit (Tmax)— the temperature at which a standard male can sleep without excessive perspiration, considering the hood and zippers open and the arms outside of the bag.
  • Comfort (Tcomfort)-The temperature at which a standard female can expect to sleep comfortably in a relaxed position.
  • Lower Limit (Tlimit)- the temperature at which a standard male can sleep for eight hours in a curled position without waking.
  • Extreme (Textreme) – the minimum temperature at which a standard female can remain for six hours without risk of death from hypothermia (though frostbite is still possible).

The measurements have been done with respect to usage of sleeping pad, one base layer of thermal underwear in a tent:

  • Assuming standard female: 25-years old, at 1.60-m height and 60 kg.
  • Assuming standard male: 25-years old, at 1.73-m height and 60 kg.

How to Choose a Sleeping Bag?

Sleeping bags are offered for sale in different sizes, different materials, different shapes and temperatures. When purchasing a sleeping bag, making your choice considering all these criteria will help you find the right sleeping bag.

Choose Your Sleeping Bag in 6 Steps

Step 1: Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings

You can always unzip a bag that feels too warm, therefore you should pick a sleeping bag with a lower temperature rating than the lowest nighttime temperature you expect where you plan to camp. If you use your bag into the colder months of the year, you should look at bags that can handle lower temperatures:

Bag TypeTemperature Rating (°F)
Summer Season+30° and higher
3-Season+15° to +30°
Winter+15° and lower

Step 2: Degree of Comfort

The ideal choice when choosing a sleeping bag is to consider the degree of comfort. Choices that are ten bars below the night temperature of the destination area promise a comfortable sleep. For example, a summer sleeping bag with a temperature rating of +30 degrees is a good choice when the outside temperature drops down to +40 degrees of Fahrenheit.

Step 3: Sleeping Bag Length

Body temperature of men and women is different from each other. Studies have shown that women have lower body temperature than men, and their hands and feet get colder quickly than men’s. For this reason, the sleeping bag choice must be made according to the gender.

  • Sleeping bags for women are offered in two sizes, Standard and Long. Standard models are suitable for women up to 5 feet and 6 inches. Long models are suitable for women up to 6 feet. The shoulder area of ​​the sleeping bags for women is narrower and the hip part is wider than the models for men; there is also extra heat insulation in the foot part.
  • Sleeping bags for men are produced in 3 different sizes: Short, Standard and Long. Short models are designed up to 5 feet 6 inches. Standard models are designed for men up to 6 feet. Long models are designed for men up to 6 feet and 6 inches. In addition, some brands and models have extra-long sleeping bags for men up to 6 feet and 8 inches tall.

Step 4: Sleeping Bag Filler Material: Synthetic vs Goose Down

Sleeping Bag Filler Material Goose Down

There are two different filler materials: Synthetic and goose down. Synthetic sleeping bags are lighter and cheaper than goose down. Synthetic sleeping bags provide very good insulation especially in humid and wet weather. With its water-absorbent structure, goose down sleeping bags lose their insulating properties when wet. If you are going on a camping holiday in a humid season and in contact with water, it is important to choose the sleeping bag considering this issue.

Type of Filling MaterialBenefits
Synthetic InsulationAffordable
Continues to insulate when damp
Dries fast
Down InsulationLightweight
Performs well in cold-dry conditions
It usually has a treatment for the water-resistance which is against damp conditions
It has a better compressibility and is easy to pack.
It is durable and very good at keeping the warmth and loft over the years.
  • Goose down sleeping bags: Goose down sleeping bags are light. If it is maintained in accordance with the rules of use, you can use it for a lifetime, it is durable. Compressible, compact, ideal for backpacking trips such as trekking. It has high thermal insulation. It is difficult to maintain and must be carefully cleaned. Pay attention to the outer surface, it should be covered with waterproof fabric.
Goose Down Sleeping Bags Lightweight and Compact
  • Synthetic Sleeping Bags: Even if the synthetic sleeping bag gets wet entirely, you can stay dry and warm inside. Because it does not transfer the wetness inside. It is bulky with its heavy and puffy structure; it is suitable for holidays when you travelled by vehicle because it takes a lot of space. It is cheaper but short-lived in terms of durability compared to goose down ones. It can be washed in the washing machine, so It is more practical.

Step 5: Rectangular Cut vs Mummy Cut

There are 2 types of sleeping bags in form. Decide the model you choose among rectangular and mummy-cut sleeping bags based on the seasonal characteristics of the region to be visited. While mummy type sleeping bag models offer correct insulation especially in cold weather, rectangular cut sleeping bags allow plenty of room for both legs and arms to stretch out; some can be completely unzipped and used like a comforter. Mummy type sleeping bags are in the most preferred category with their practical use and compact structure.

Sleeping Bag Types Rectangular and Mummy Cut

Step 6: Larger Zipper Length vs Half-zipper

Sleeping bags are based on the principle of preserving the existing body temperature inside the sleeping bag. For this reason, half-zippers of the sleeping bags give better results in terms of insulation. The larger the zipper length, the harder the insulation.

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